Are vacations good for your career?
Most Americans would answer that question with a resounding “No” – particularly since extra time away from the office often leaves us worrying about the possibility of being replaced. In fact, 55% of US Citizens avoid taking any of their vacation days as much as possible, in the hope that staying put will give them greater job security.
However, we’ve established before that science suggests vacations are more than just a useful way to wind down after a long year of the nine-to-five routine. Travelling regularly – even if you take your universal charger to ensure you can stay connected to your devices – is better for your health, and productivity. In fact, one of the most productive things you can do for your career today, is to step outside of the office – far outside.
Whether you travel somewhere new and continue working at a reduced rate while you’re there, or take a break from your career entirely – simply considering a vacation could be the best thing you’ve done for your professional life so far.
Answering the Question: Are Vacations Good for Your Career?
It’s easy enough for us to say that taking a productive trip is good for you – we love vacations. However, it’s also worth noting that our claims are backed up by science. Recent studies into leadership behavior and work-based lifestyles have found that European executives are generally more productive than their American counterparts. Why? Because they take more vacations.
The study arose when a pair of founders (Folkman and Zenger) for a leadership development consultancy firm recognized that they had trouble coordinating meetings with Amsterdam-based companies due to the fact that most of their executives seemed to be always on vacation. The two founders wanted to know how the company could successfully operate with so many executives on paid leave, and thus asked the head of human resources what was going on. He responded that the breaks and rest the executives got on vacation made them more productive than U.S. executives – who regularly burn themselves out.
The idea launched an investigation into the question “Are vacations good for your career?” – focusing on the concept that too much work, and not enough play damaged the professional functions of a business. A study took place using two groups – one of US executives, and one of European executives. The data came from 2,310 respondents, and lead to incredible results. The outcome not only determined that U.S. executives felt “overwhelmed”, and less like they had things under control, but also that the European group were able to work faster, focus for longer, and suffered from less stress.
At the end of the study, Zenger and Folkman released the results in a Harvard Business Review, and suggested that the information showed that employees who took more vacation time were more productive, and more driven to get their work done right. In other words, taking a much needed break refreshes your brain, revitalizes your body, and gives you the drive you need to waste less time at work.
The Value of Taking a Productive Trip
Refreshing your brain and getting yourself out of the slump that can settle in after too long in the same routine might take a weekend, or it may take a week. It all depends on your specific circumstances. One thing that seems evident though, is shaking up your scenario will help to stop you from burning out, and running out of juice.
Besides the research outlined above, another study has shown that 82% of small business owners took a vacation were able to perform better at work when they got back to the office. Why? Because:
- Excessive work leads to burnout that damages your business and reputation.
- Overworking makes you exhausted, which leads to bad decisions
- Fatigue makes it difficult to maintain good relationships (tiredness makes you cranky)
Taking a productive trip, with your universal charger and a sense of adventure to keep you company, allows you to give your brain a break – but that’s not all it’s good for. When answering the question “Are vacations good for your career?” it’s important to consider all the benefits of getting away from the office, including:
1. Your Office Isn’t Going to Inspire You (But Somewhere Else Might)
You might have spent a lot of time and effort on decorating your office – but that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal location to generate new ideas. Office spaces simply aren’t conducive to creativity and inspiration. On the other hand, visiting a new place is likely to get your creative juices flowing, and help you look at things from a new angle. Taking a productive trip allows creativity to blossom, and because you change your view on things, you may come up with some of the best ideas of your life.
2. You’ll be Happier, and More Positive on Vacation
There’s a reason why people love vacations – they simply make us happy! While spending too much time in the office can sap all of your positivity and energy, a quick vacation can restock your supplies and help you return to work in a good mood, full of the motivation and drive to make sure you’re not only getting the job done – but you’re getting it done well.
3. Chances to Network
Finally, going on a productive trip will give you a chance to meet new people and create new relationships – particularly if you connect your vacation with events and conferences. By extending your social and professional circle, you open yourself up to a variety of new opportunities, where you may discover new leads, explore potential markets, and plan ventures to better generate new revenue.
Are Vacations Good for Your Career?
The answer to the question is simple: Yes. Vacations make you more productive, change your attitude to a more positive one, and help you to establish the creativity you need to make a successful change in your career, and your future.